One of the nice things about living in Florida are ample beaches and water. Besides possessing your typical tourist attraction, Florida’s beaches and waterfront allows transportation and urban planners to be creative with public transit. Water taxis are gaining popularity in the state, and the Tampa Bay area can utilize water taxis to connect two counties separated by the Tampa Bay: Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.
Currently, the only connections across Tampa Bay for Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are three bridges. Each one of these bridges is jammed packed during rush hour. One accident can cause hour-long backups across the seven-mile expansions. There have been plans to connect the counties with a light-rain train, but with the recent failure of a light-rail campaign in Hillsborough County, those plans have been scrapped for the time being. A slow car trip is the only way to cross this body of water.
Water taxis have been used around the Downtown Tampa waterfront for a while, and they keep gaining popularity. The governments of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties should consider water taxi as the next way to connect the two counties. Downtown St. Petersburg, located in Pinellas County, is just a short walk away from a waterfront. It is the source of entertainment and nightlife for Pinellas County. A water taxi connecting this city to Downtown Tampa would provide easier access between the two areas, compared to the drive on Interstate 275. It would also provide tourists with more transit options, which would benefit both counties. On top of all of the benefits, a water taxi has the intrinsic value of allowing riders to enjoy the scenery along Tampa Bay.
The water taxi idea has been proposed by a couple of people in passing, but there have yet to be any extensive feasibility studies.
Do you know of any successful water taxi projects in waterfront cities? Does a water taxi seem like a sustainable and environmentally-friendly form of transit? How do you think contemporary society would respond to water public transit?
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